Big East coaches fear Fontanez

With USF’s first pitch just 10 days away, Big East baseball coaches around the league have admitted their fear of the starting pitcher at the top of the USF starting rotation.

Randy Fontanez is back for his senior season after passing on a contract offer from the Cincinnati Reds, who drafted him in the 23rd round of the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft.

Fontanez was named the “pitcher you least want to face” by Big East coaches in a poll by

With three years as USF’s Friday night pitcher under his belt, Fontanez returns for his final season with the Bulls. In 41 career starts, Fontanez has posted a record of 17-13 with an earned run average of 3.41. He has also completed 10 games in his USF career.

Despite only going 5-7, Fontanez pitched some of his best games last season.

On March 26, Fontanez pitched a complete game no-hitter, becoming the first USF pitcher to do so in 18 years. He struck out 12 batters in that outing, a career-high.

When Connecticut came to Tampa May 14, it was expected to be a pitcher’s duel between Fontanez and Huskies ace Matt Barnes, who hadn’t yet been beaten. Fontanez limited UConn, who was leading the Big East at the time, to just four hits and one earned run in a dominating seven-inning effort.

Fontanez will have his hands full right away as the Bulls open their season Feb. 18 against the top-ranked Florida Gators at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville. USF opened last season against the No. 7 Gators, but was swept in three games.